The Madras High Court today permitted DMK working president M K Stalin to inspect desilting work, claimed to be carried out by DMK cadres, in water bodies in the state, with prior information to the district collector and superintendent of police concerned.
The court also allowed him to visit Kacharayankuttai Tank in Konganapuram in Salem district, which falls under Chief Minister K Palaniswami's assembly constituency.
Justice M Duraiswamy passed the order on a petition by DMK's legal wing secretary M K Giririjan which alleged that the state government was preventing Stalin from visiting water bodies which were being desilted by DMK workers.
The judge noted that no case had been registered against the DMK leader in connection with his visits to water bodies and hence preventing him from visiting Kacharayankuttai Tank in Konganapuram was violative of Article 19 of the Constitution.
Referring to the submission by the respondents that Stalin can visit any place in the state except Kacharayankuttai Tank, the judge observed that it only proved the mala fide intention of the authorities.
He also said even assuming that the state government was desilting water bodies and tanks, a person cannot be prevented from visiting or inspecting them since they do not belong to any individual.
"In these circumstances, I am of the view that the respondents should not prevent M K Stalin from visiting any place in the state of Tamil Nadu, for inspecting water bodies, tanks, etc," the judge said.
"However, since the respondents have stated that if Stalin inspects water bodies and tanks, it would create law and order problem, I am of the view that the number of persons accompanying Stalin, Leader of the Opposition, can be restricted to 25," he said.
Justice Duraiswamy also directed the government to give suitable directions to the respective district collectors and superintendent of police or commissioner of police for giving adequate police protection at the time of visit of Stalin.
The DMK in its petition wanted the court to restrain the state government from preventing Stalin from visiting any part of Tamil Nadu to inspect water bodies, where desilting work was taken up.
The main opposition party filed the petition after Stalin was detained in Coimbatore by police last month en route to Salem to visit Kacharayankuttai tank and also to participate in a human chain protest on the NEET issue.
The state government had opposed the petition the ground that such a relief may lead to breach of law and order.
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